06 November 2009


My mom is a book nut.

Not only is she a book nut, but she is a book nut who buys all of her books....a habit that she instilled in me as I was growing up.

My parents' house is filled with books.

When I was a kid a trip to a toy store was a rare thing, but visits to our local bookstore occurred regular as clockwork. In general, my mom would let - and even encourage - my sister and I to pick just about any books that our hearts desired and she would buy them for us. We each had our own very impressive libraries housed in our bedrooms.

As we grew older, my interest in reading books and owning them grew exponentially.

As an adult, even when I was not earning much money and was living on my own, I couldn't seem to stop myself from buying books. When new books proved to be too expensive I found several wonderful used book stores where I spent hours poring over the shelves in search of just the right book to satisfy my mood and fit within my limited means (usually about $1.25 in my pocket.) Occasionally, if it came down to a choice between spending my last $5 on food or a book, I chose the book.

All of this book buying eventually gets just a bit out of hand.

When I need to make the move from the Midwest to Rhode Island I opt to sell or donate most of my belongings rather than haul them across country.

I don't realize how many books I actually own until I have to move. Each bookcase contains double rows of all of my favorite fiction, fantasy, sci fi and mysteries. I painstakingly sort through my collection culling out the favorites that I just can't live without.

There are still an alarming number of books in my "keep" pile.

More culling.

How had I amassed SO many books?

And, more importantly, how on earth had I fit them into my teeny teeny tiny little apartment???

In the end, I haul 780 books to my favorite used book store. The owner (and my boss at the time) looks at my books and then at me. And then at all of the books again.

"How many???" he asks me again.

"781..." I say sheepishly.

He shakes his head and grins.

He doesn't purchase all of my treasures, but the majority of them. Those he doesn't buy I give to him for the dime bin.

Remarkably, I still ship 14 boxes of books to Chris.

Our house today is filled with books because - like me - and my mother - Chris is a book-buying-book-nut, too. (That, and everyone we know gives us books as gifts.)

A while back we had to cull through our rather embarrassingly large collection because we had simply run out of shelf space. Books were piling up in odd places. So we have a yard sale. And those that we don't sell at the yard sale, Chris takes to the library to donate.

The woman at the library asks for Chris' name and address for the donation form and then how many books he is donating.

"331," Chris replies cheerfully.

The woman starts to write this down, looks up at him in astonishment and says, "Excuse me. How many books did you say you're donating??"

"331," Chris says again, this time a little unsure.

Apparently this is the largest book donation this particular librarian has taken in quite some time. Chris reports back she looked pretty shocked.

Since then, we have managed to amass more books.

We have reached saturation.


Luckily, our town's library restoration and expansion was recently completed and we have made something of a commitment to try to stop buying our books and instead avail ourselves of the library's wonderful facilities and growing collections.

I hadn't had a library card since I was a kid. I had forgotten how fun it is to pick out books without the worry of, "How the heck am I going to pay for all of these?" and how nice it is to know that should you select a book that turns out not to appeal - you can simply return it.

No hassles.

In my first trip to our new and improved library I come away with 6 books, which I devour long before their due dates.

I've continue to purchase a few books here and there, but am trying to make myself use the library to save money and the rather limited space in our small home.

And I'm really looking forward to taking Schmoopie to the Children's Section at our local library. It's big, airy, light, has a huge collection of books and many wonderful spaces where kids and parents can flop down on the floor to read or snuggle up on window seats together to explore a new book or revisit an old favorite.

I'm sure that we'll probably want to buy our Little One books. I'm just as sure that she'll get them as gifts. But sincerely I hope that Chris and I can instill in her the joy of spending time in our local library.

Need any books?

I have the feeling we'll be having another yard sale again soon...


  1. When I moved across the country 1800 miles, I had to cull my huge collection too. For a few years I managed to keep the number down, but then I met my husband and moved in with him, allowing me a lot more space. So the collection amassed again. Since moving another 1500 miles to a much small home though, I've curbed buying. We have an amazing system of libraries here. Of course, my Sunshine Girl has a large collection of her own! But she devours so many books that the library is the only way to keep us from going broke and running out of room. We love books in our home!

  2. We're book nuts too. Our habit has been severely curtained since I got into a fight with B and N which is the only bookstore anywhere near us. I would LOVE to have a library like in an English manor house!

    I've got the baby bassinett filled with books I get at garage sales!

  3. You have to read Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. It starts "A few months ago, my husband and I decided to mix our books together..." It's such a quick and fun read. Also, it'll inspire understanding nods from co-habitating book lovers.

    Meanwhile, due to economics and a great love for public libraries I've made great use of my local libraries in Seattle and on the island where I now live. My secret? Just one word - holds! Get thyself acquainted with your library's system of putting holds on the books you want and you'll never look back. (You can even put holds on books yet to arrive.)

    I don't mean you'll stop buying books. Instead you'll have lots to read while saving your money for buying books that the library doesn't carry, books by local authors who can use your support and those special books you need in your home (e.g., my small but beloved poetry and children's picture book collections).

    Read on!